There’s nothing inherently daring about pierced ears. Sticking a needle through our lobes to make way for studs or hoops has long been as conventional and boring as a tub of margarine. But now, there’s boldness—and an important message—in numbers. Middle-aged women who want to advertise that they’re still vital and interesting are increasingly turning to earlobe stacking.
Earlobe stacking is the term for turning your ear into a canvas. No part of the ear is excluded from decoration, even the most small, tender spots, such as tragus, the innermost part of the ear that connects your hearing devices to your face.
Now that I’m getting a divorce, I think I need an earful.
Gwyneth Paltrow, she of the “menopause rebranding,” has earfuls of adornment, so do other key influencers. Instagram documents ear piercing parties for this set. Pinterest has reported 140 times more searches for “cool ear piercings” year over year.
Even the Wall Street Journal has taken notice. “Multiple ear piercings are resurging among Gen X and elder millennial women who first sprung for second holes at the mall in fits of 18-year-old rebellion,” writes Michelle Ruiz in the Journal. “Some are awakening long-dormant wild streaks. Others are cathartically puncturing their pandemic-induced weariness.”
What Multiple Ear Piercings Say About You
We’re down with the message of earlobe stacking. Multiple piercings have always been a little bit punk, and it’s healthy and fun to take something outré and make it your own—at any age.
It’s an achievable way to be edgy.
“It’s an achievable way to be edgy,” Lisa Bubbers, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Studs, told the Journal. Studs is a piercing shop with locations in multiple cities including New York. “It’s not permanent like a tattoo. It’s not dangerous like bungee jumping.”
We especially like that ears, always a showcase for sparkle, are the vehicle for disrupting some aging stereotypes. Plus, it’s not as in your face, literally, as a nose, lip or eyebrow piercing. And don’t even get us started on the ickiness of a tongue piercing.
“When I turned 40, I got an extra piercing in each ear,” says NextTribe co-founder Jeannie Ralston. “I didn’t know that then, but it’s called a `snake bite’ to have two holes in your earlobe. I did it because I wanted to say I wasn’t going quietly into middle-age. Now that I’m getting a divorce, I think I need to get an earful!”
Tips for Loading Up Your Ears
There are two ways to think of ear piercings: cartilage and non-cartilage. Cartilage is the lobe and piercing those is less painful. The non-cartilage piercings are more painful because they’re in places where the skin is thicker and harder. Non-cartilage spots include the helix, the upper curved part of the ear; the tragus, the part of the ear closest to the face; the daith, which is a ridge just above the ear canal. The flat is a common space for personal expression and is the…uh…flat part of the ear.
There are two ways to think of ear piercings: cartilage and non-cartilage.
Any non-cartilage piercings can take two to four months to heal.
Experts suggest you only get two piercings at once to minimize trauma to the body (which sounds ominous) and chances for irritation. Work on one ear at a time so you can sleep or talk on the phone on the other side.
For aesthetic purposes, stylists suggest wearing heavier earrings in lower holes and decreasing the size as you move up, tapering to the shape of your ear. Some women like asymmetry, loading up on one ear, the “party ear,” as one woman recently described it, and letting the other ear be more sedate. Maybe they want to cover all sides of their personality.
So, who’s with us in wanting to load up our ears? Should we plan a NextTribe piercing party?